Events & Happenings
CAMPUS EVENT on NOVEMBER 6 and 8, 2018 in BAAC 223!
What Do CSULB Alumni, Instructors, and Students Think About the Role of Writing on Campus and in Their Professions?
Everyone at CSULB has an opinion about writing. How do we teach writing? How important is it to learn writing skills? Should we have more or less writing in our classes?
Over the last year the Writing Across the Curriculum Program conducted three simultaneous Internal Review Board approved studies on writing perceptions and experiences learning to write. More than 1,400 responses from the entire CSULB community shared their experiences in response to questions such as,
- I wish I were a better writer?
- Once I graduate I believe writing in my career will be:
- Do you feel CSULB needs more university writing support for students?
- Do you feel CSULB needs more university writing support for instructors who wish to teach more writing?
- Would you have benefited from having more of the instructors from your major at CSULB teach some writing that is important to your profession?
- Would you be willing to help advance writing and the teaching of writing that the Writing Across the Curriculum Program does with all the colleges and departments at CSULB? How so?
Come find out what the CSULB community indicated about their experiences with writing, learning to write, and writing in their professions. We’ve arranged two days and times to adapt to differing work and school schedules. Coffee and tea will be available. Please RSVP so we can reserve appropriately sized venues.
WHEN: Tuesday, November 6, 2018
WHEN: Thursday, November 8, 2018
WHERE: BAAC 223
Teaching Writing Series Coming Spring 2019!
Academic Year: 2017-2018 Reflections
Whew, we've been busy!
WAC Fellows for 2017-2018
Last academic year was our first cohort of nine WAC Fellows from colleges across campus. With these WAC Fellows we formed a great silo-busting collaborative invested in studying, discussing, sharing, and applying writing across and in our disciplines. Cheers to cohort one!
- Lori Brown, College of Business Administration, Information Systems
- Lethia Cobbs, Disabled Student Services, Stephen Benson Learning Disability Program
- Heather Graham, College of the Arts, Department of Design
- Barbara Grossman-Thompson, College of Liberal Arts, International Studies
- Libby Gustin, College of Health and Human Services, Hospitality Management
- Yan Li, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering
- Jonathan O’Brien, College of Education, Educational Leadership
- Courtney Stammler, College of Continuing and Professional Education, American Language Institute
- Tom Tredway, College of the Arts, Department of Design
WAC Modules: Pilot Spring 2018
The second exciting project was our launch of another silo-busting, groundbreaking pilot titled Writing Across the Disciplines Modules. This collaborative, made up of several learning assistance leaders from across campus, focused on five WAC Modules:
- How to Get Started Writing is designed to help students start writing by teaching them strategies and techniques to get started, unstuck, from feeling they can’t write, can’t think of anything, or feel they procrastinate a little too much.
- How to Organize and Develop My Writing is constructed to help writers make their writing read smoothly from the paragraph level to the whole writing piece.
- How to Revise My Sentences, Paragraphs, and Essays is designed for students who need guidance and strategies on how to revise their writing from two typical challenges students face, either revising their projects before turning them in, or revising after an instructor has given them feedback.
- How to Correctly and Effectively Use Sources in My Writing is designed to expose students to a variety of ways to blend outside sources into their writing (quote, paraphrase, summary, visual).
- Communication Skills for Non-native Speakers is designed for students who would like to immerse themselves in conversations in English to increase their comprehension and fluidity. Moreover, the modules ask students to bring terms and concepts from their class so they can practice discussing and explaining them.
During the pilot phase, the WAC Modules additionally worked with 16 faculty from a variety of disciplines with students from freshmen to seniors. Some keys to our innovative modules are that we placed confidence in the maturity of our students to know where they could use some informed instruction to help them improve themselves as thinkers and writers. To achieve this we developed a Writing Pre-assessment, a series of questions that illicit responses focused on each of the five module areas. My experience teaching writing to native and second language learners over the last 30 years has clearly shown that traditionally students who could use some writing instruction don’t get it or don’t get it in a timely fashion. The Writing Pre-assessment was given to students in class in the first two weeks. Based on responses students were invited to attend a module. We designed the WAC Modules to be like mini writing workshops or small classes, with a maximum capacity of 8 students in a module, and each module meets one hour per week over five weeks. Students who completed a WAC Module receive a WAC Module Certificate to share with their instructors, who have all agreed to offer various forms of extra credit for completion.
Hunting for Big Data and Personal Writing Experiences
Last September 2018 after a long, challenging 8 month IRB approval process, I received approval for three independent large scale studies on experiences and perceptions of writing and writing instruction.
The three independent studies and audiences are
- CSULB Student Survey on Experiences and Perceptions on Writing and the Teaching of Writing
- CSULB All Faculty and Instructor Survey on Experiences and Perceptions of Writing and the Teaching of Writing
- CSULB Alumni Survey on Experiences and Perceptions of Writing and the Teaching of Writing at CSULB and the Role Writing Serves in Their Professional Lives
CSULB is a diverse university with over 38,000 students. Each year student applications increases and this year it was over 103,000. Around 5,000 undergraduate students are accepted and 3,000 transfer students. At such a large state school my aim is to add big data numbers triangulated from the perspectives of actual experiences stated by students, faculty, and alumni. We plan to cease collecting responses in June 2018 and begin our study of the responses in order to make focused decisions about where and what types of informed writing instruction is needed. Faculty from other universities have expressed an interest in this project; they would like to know some of the outcomes, and they would like to collaborate at their institutions by offering the same three surveys so that we can expand on the big data findings we generate. Following this research approach we end with local data on each school population and national data from many schools' combined data. If you are from another institution and would like to partner with us, please contact me at John.Scenters-Zapico@csulb.edu. In July 2018 I presented at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) conference in Seattle, Washington on my preliminary finding from these three studies.
WAC Alterantive One
In addition to the WAC Director, I additionally accepted the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement Coordinator position two years ago. The root of this program is a timed writing placement exam Graduation Placement Exam (GPE), and for years called the WPE that places students into a variety of writing courses. Because the GPE passes over 90% of students, which essentially means a fair number of students might never receive any writing instruction, and the other 10% who place are English Language Learners (ELL), the test is essentially one for ELL students. This statistic troubled me because I know lots of students need guidance in learning to become better writers. With this in mind I proposed to the GWAR committee, composed of faculty and staff from across campus, the WAC Alternative on a pilot scale. In a nutshell, the WAC Alternative states
- No more GPE.
- No more GWAR courses (perceived as remedial and generally not focused of disciplinary writing practices).
Unanimously approved by the GWAR (and the first alternative ever approved) the WAC Alternative
- Eliminates the GPE and GWAR classes.
- Focuses on upper-division writing in the major.
- Requires the major to have at least two informed writing classes, requiring instructor comments and opportunities to revise, etc.
- These two classes must be GWAR approved.
- Students who pass these two classes, pass the GWAR requirement.
The three departments working with the WAC Alternative One are:
- Liberal Studies
WAC Alternative Two
In the CSU we recently had two Executive Orders, 1100 and 1110, which are aimed at making the route to graduation faster. Without going into detail, these EOs have been anything but easy to work with, yet they also have some merit to them. CSULB is holding several campus-wide, open meetings to discuss what might work best for our campus.
The GWAR requirement discussed above has a part two to it. Once students complete or pass the GWAR requirements above, they then are eligible to take the second phase, which is called the GE Writing Intensive requirement in the major, an upper division informed writing class. EO 1100 essentially did away with this requirement.
- The WAC Alternative Two is a similar proposal to The WAC Alternative One in that it reimagines writing requirements on campus as not “added on” extras but informed “inside the major” courses with informed writing instruction. The WAC Alternative Two would replace the GE WI course with focused upper-division writing in the major with several options.
- Majors can maintain their GE WI approved course, if they have one and as long as it is part of the major. Students who pass this one course have satisfied the second phase of the GWAR, or
- Majors can have two or more upper division courses in the major that have informed writing practices, require half of the requirements of a GE WI courses. Students who pass any two of these classes have satisfied phase two of the GWAR.
The WAC Alternative Two
- does not add any additional courses to students’ majors,
- increases the number of informed and approved writing classes in majors,
- offers optional courses in the major, eliminating bottlenecks to graduation.
At this time we are involved in three major projects, WAC Fellows, WAC Alternatives (to the GWAR), and three independent, IRB approved studies delving into the experiences and perceptions of learning to write and writing in school and in the workplace. If you or your major or department are intersted in a workshop, please contact me.
What Faculty Say About Workshops
“Writing is a critical component for engineers. We should teach engineering students how to write to publish their work.” –Henry Yeh, 2015 recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award
“The workshop helped me turn my minds on and hands on.” –Anonymous
“Instead of complaining about students’ writing, now I can use writing to help them learn.” –Anonymous
“As a professor in the School of Art I mainly teach studio classes. I was quite nervous delving into the creation of a WI class. The WAC workshop gave me concrete examples, resources and ideas to create an effective WI class. I now feel very comfortable moving forward and very much look forward to my first class this summer.” –Aubry Mintz
“Eye opening approaches to making our courses make WI.” –Anonymous